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What’s So Great About Bibs?

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Bibs.  Either you like them or you don’t.  Allow me to share three good reasons why I think kids should wear bibs for all messy activities.

No bib kidToddler BibBibs save you time. 

Foods like peaches, apples, and chocolate can permanently stain fabrics.  The best way to prevent these and other foods from landing on your kid’s clothing is to use a bib that covers all or most of his shirt.  Granted, it can take a few seconds to tie a bib on your hungry little one, but it can take minutes to treat stains before laundering clothing.  It can take hours to work long enough to buy new clothes to replace the ones that are ruined by food stains.

Bibs keep your kids comfortable. 

Soggy clothing is not comfortable!  Would you want to spend the afternoon wearing a wet, sticky shirt?  I know I wouldn’t want to, but I’ve seen plenty of kids walking around with shirts that are soaked with drool or milk or juice or food.  Yuck!

Save your kid the aggravation of a soggy shirt by tying a bib on her before she starts to eat or drink.

Bibs are cute!

Bibs come in all shapes and sizes with all kinds of pictures and cute sayings on them.  Some bibs, like the ones I sell in my Etsy shop, are cute enough to be considered clothing.

If you’ve got young children or grandchildren, I urge you to make a habit of tying on a bib at mealtimes.  You’ll be surprised how much better your child will look and feel with clothes that are clean and dry!  You’ll feel better, too!

What’s your opinion on bibs and kids?


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What’s in a Name?


What’s in a name?  If the extent of my agonizing over whether or not to change my online business name is any gauge, then a name is pretty darn important!

Last month, I made a big change in my online business.  I made the decision to re-brand my business using my own name, and I hired a graphic designer to make a logo that suited my business.  I’m very pleased with the work my designer did for me, and I’m pleased that my business name is consistent locally and online.



I have three main reasons for changing my business name, and here they are:

 Number One:

My official business name, the one that I use on my tax return and on any official paperwork is “Elaine Searer, Sewing & Alterations”.  I chose that name, not because it’s cute or catchy, but because it’s free.  In Pennsylvania, I do not have to pay a fee to use my own name as my business name.  If I choose a fictitious name (like My Grandma Sews), then I have to pay to file that fictitious name with my state.

Number Two:

Because I never paid to use the name My Grandma Sews, it wasn’t really mine.  I had no legal claim to it, and if another businessperson wanted to go into business using that name, I would have no recourse to stop them or to protect my use of that name.  I considered it highly unlikely that I would ever get into a business fight with anyone wanting to use that name, but just the same, the possibility was there that I could work to build a brand and then have it snatched from me. Some people might ask why I didn’t just register that name.  I could have done that, but I’m already operating a successful local sewing and alterations business under a different name…you guessed it!  Elaine Searer Sewing & Alterations.  What are the chances that my local customers would ever begin to refer to my business by a fictitious name?  Slim to none.

Number Three: 

The last reason is just that the word “grandma” was not the image I wanted to portray to my online customers.  I like being a grandma, but I was concerned that the using the word “grandma” would make potential customers think “old-fashioned”.  While I do consider my choice of patterns and projects to be classics, I do not consider them old-fashioned!

My other concern is that while the word “grandma” seemed cute to use for a business that makes children’s items, it would not suit me if I decided to list items in my shop that are not for children.With the help of my graphic designer, I made the decision to brand myself with the business name that I already own and use:  Elaine Searer Sewing & Alterations.

Some people have mentioned that they miss My Grandma Sews, and I miss that name a bit myself.  I am, however, convinced that I made the right decision for me and my growing business.

If you’d like to see the rest of my new graphics, please visit me on Facebook at and  and my Etsy shop at .

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Car Seat Ponchos Available Now

Now that you know that a car seat poncho could help to keep your child warm and safe this winter, I want to share some details about the fleece car seat ponchos hand-crafted by me, Elaine Searer.fleece car seat ponchoFirst of all, the name “car seat poncho” doesn’t tell the whole story.  These ponchos are great for traveling, but they are also warm, comfy, and easy to wear for other cold weather activities.  The ponchos are made from two layers of anti-pill fleece, making them a soft, warm alternative to a winter coat.  They can be layered over sweatshirts or sweaters or other jackets.  These ponchos are especially convenient for those kids who don’t like to wear coats.
car seat ponchoA car seat poncho is perfect for children of all ages who travel in car seats.  You can see in the photo above that the snap-front poncho is just right for this eight-month-old.  car seat poncho with chest harnessThe poncho goes over the car seat buckles so nothing interferes with the child’s safety.  Hand slits make it possible for children to hold a book, snack, or toy in the car, too. car seat poncho with hand slitsMy handcrafted car seat ponchos are not just for girls.  The style is gender neutral, and the fabric choices allow for customization to anyone’s preferences.  Here’s a snap front infant sized poncho in a print that would be suitable for boys or girls. The snap front ponchos close with color coordinated plastic snaps from KAMsnaps.  car seat poncho with snap frontThe fleece ponchos that I make are great for those moms who like to carry  or wear their babies close to them.  The poncho does not interfere with the carrier, but still provides warmth for the baby. baby wearing ponchoMy ponchos are carefully handcrafted using only anti-pill fleece, and the generous size range can allow you to purchase one poncho that can be worn for two or more years by your favorite little one.

The zipper front ponchos are made with a sturdy nylon coil or molded plastic two-way jacket zipper and include a zipper tab cover at the top to prevent the zipper from rubbing sensitive chins. zipper with tab cover

The ponchos come in a wide range of sizes and are priced according to size.  Please visit my Etsy shop for more information at

I also invite you to join my Facebook group at  where I post lots of pictures, news about fabrics and sales, and other fun stuff.

Keep your little one warm and safe this winter with a hand-crafted fleece poncho.  All of my children’s items meet CPSC safety requirements.  




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Car Seat Ponchos for Safety and Warmth

Here in Pennsylvania, we’re still enjoying summer weather with temperatures in the high 80s, but these warm summer days will soon be a memory.  When the temperatures start to fall, how can you keep your little ones warm and safe for fall and winter traveling?

You may need to swap out that heavy winter coat for a cozy car seat poncho.
Car Seat Poncho

Until a few years ago, I had no idea that buckling an infant or child into a car seat while he is wearing a winter coat is not safe.  A puffy winter coat will prevent the car seat straps from fastening tightly enough to keep a little one safe.  Here’s an article from Consumer Reports that explains exactly what can happen when a child is buckled into his car seat while wearing his winter coat.  (Consumer Reports article) 

Car Seat ponchoA car seat poncho can be worn on a child over the car seat buckles rather than under them.  The poncho drapes over the back of the car seat, and the front of the poncho covers the child keeping him or her warm and cozy while in the car.
car seat ponchoLast winter when I found this pattern designed by Stitch Upon a Time, I knew I needed to make one for my granddaughter Aaliyah.  Her parents were already putting safety first and buckling her into her car seat without her coat.  They used a common technique which was to remove her jacket when she got in the car and then cover her over with it.  The problem with that was that the coat would often slip off onto the floor.

I made her a car seat poncho, and she and her parents loved it!  I used two layers of anti-pill fleece for comfort and warmth.  The poncho zips up the front and includes a hood.  I added hand slits so that Aaliyah can hold a book or toy.  She liked it so much that I decided to offer these for sale on my Facebook page and in my Etsy shop this fall.

car seat ponchoI’ve got lots of beautiful fleece fabric, and I’ll be listing the ponchos on Facebook and Etsy in the next couple of weeks.  The ponchos that I’m making range in size from 3-6 months to size 8, and they aren’t just for traveling in the car.  They are perfect for other fall and winter activities.  If you’d like more information on prices and fabrics and how to place an order, please “like” my Facebook page so you won’t miss their debut.

The ponchos meet CPCS safety requirements for children.

I want to send a special thank you to my grandchildren, Aaliyah and Jayden who modeled the ponchos last Sunday when it was ninety degrees here in Pennsylvania.  Don’t worry, we didn’t keep them on them for more than a few minutes!

Enjoy the rest of summer because Old Man Winter’s on his way! 


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Frog Novelty Fabric Purse

I love novelty fabrics, and I make no apologies for that!  Novelty fabrics are a sub-category of 100% cotton quilting fabrics that are printed with conversational themes that make them popular for a shorter period of time than most classic cotton quilting fabrics.  Here’s a few of the novelty fabrics that I have on my fabric shelf right now: Novelty fabric collage

Fabrics that feature certain animals, hobby tools, foods, sports team logos, and the like are considered novelty prints.  Naturally, I’m drawn to novelty prints with sewing tools on them.  I also have some novelty prints with lemons, oranges, and apples.  Right now novelty prints with owls, cats, and birds are quite popular.  Almost anyone with a certain interest can find a novelty print to correspond.
For instance, I was recently approached by a customer who wanted me to make a bag for her daughter who loves frogs.  This customer was pretty specific:  green frogs on a dark background.  No problem!  I searched online until I found several prints that fit that description and purchased the one I liked best, which just happened to be this leaping frog print from Timeless Treasures.

I used a Veranda Tote pattern from Quilts Illustrated changing the outside pocket to a zippered one.  I like the way it turned out, and the recipient sent me a message saying she liked it, too.  Frog purse

There’s nothing like a novelty print to share your passion with the world!

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I Can Hear a Pin Drop

This month we made a huge (for us) investment in our home by having new flooring installed in our basement.  Some of you may know that the basement is my sewing room, so, yes, this change was mostly for my benefit.

Sewing in a carpeted room has its downside.  Thread sticks to the carpet and is hard to sweep up, and pins fall without a sound and get stuck in the carpet fibers.  Our carpet, which we had installed in the late 1980s, was especially troublesome because the seam was coming apart across the part of the room where my machines are, and I was constantly tripping over the loose carpet or getting carpet threads wrapped around the wheels of my office chair.

The new floor that we had installed is a rubbery kind of laminate tile that fits so tightly together that it is moisture-proof.  I love the lighter color that brightens up the entire room.
Because I had to practically empty the room to have the floor done, I’ve been taking this opportunity to sort through all of my craft supplies to weed out things that I don’t use, want, or need anymore.  It sure feels good to get things organized!

With this beautiful new flooring, I couldn’t bear to fill up the room to its former capacity.  I took this opportunity to turn our downstairs bedroom, which no longer houses a bed, into a fitting room.  This room holds all of my fabric and some of my less frequently used notions.  I also have a platform and mirror in this room to use for fitting my alterations customers.
I am so fortunate to be able to use three-quarters of our basement floor space for my sewing business and craft hobbies.  I still remember those days when I did all of my sewing at the dining room table, and I would never want to go back to that!

This new improved sewing space is comfortable and convenient for me.  Sewing is a pleasure in my beautiful studio where I can hear a pin drop!

Where or how do you keep your hobby supplies organized in your home?  What would you change about your craft space if you could? 


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My Little Pony Bedroom Makeover

My granddaughter Aaliyah just had a new baby brother!  In anticipation of the little guy’s arrival, his parents painted and furnished his nursery with a Lion King theme.

They thought this would be a good time to make a few changes in Aaliyah’s room, too.  At age 3.5, she is ready to transition from nursery to little girl’s room.  What better way to do that than with a My Little Pony bedroom makeover?

One of the things I love about Aaliyah’s parents is their commitment to save money when they can.  One way they could save money on this makeover was to pitch the idea of some MLP room accessories to Grammy who loves to sew.  I happily agreed to do a little sewing to make the My Little Pony room everything that Aaliyah would want it to be.

My Little Pony pillowcase

The first phase of the makeover was to sew up two My Little Pony pillowcases from this bright and cheery fabric that I purchased at Joanns.  The two coordinating fabrics were pulled from my scrap drawer, and I love the way these turned out!
My Little Pony fleece blanket
My next project was a My Little Pony fleece blanket, made from this soft and colorful anti-pill fleece also purchased at Joanns.  I wanted this to have an actual blanket look, so I mitered the corners and did a twin needle hem on this blanket.  Aaliyah loves it!  So does her dog Lily.  MLPstuffJustine (Aaliyah’s mom) wisely steered Aaliyah toward a theme that would work with her already pink walls and pink sheets.  Doesn’t her little toddler bed look adorable?

I bought an extra cut of My Little Pony fabric at Joanns, and my plan was to make a few throw pillows for on her bed.  I realized that decorative pillows for a toddler was a ridiculous idea.  With the addition of some plain fabric, I was able to turn that extra MLP yardage into two valances for Aaliyah’s windows.
This was a much better use of the fabric than more pillows, and I think the valances do a great job of making the Pony theme carry over into the rest of the room.  MLPstuff2

Thanks to a good sale at Joanns, this room makeover was pretty frugal and fun!

What kind of frugal room makeovers have you done? 

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Bluebell Dress in Microfleece

I’ve recently been buying and using more and more pdf sewing patterns.  On Black Friday last November many designers were having great sales with deep discounts on their pdf patterns.  One of the patterns that I bought that day was the Bluebell dress pattern from My Childhood Treasures.

Bluebell dressHere’s my first run with this pattern, and I’m very happy with the results.  I chose a microfleece fabric that I bought at Joanns.

My favorite things about this pattern are the raglan sleeves (because they are super easy and super fast) and the circle skirt that is great for twirling.
Bluebell dress
Here she is on Christmas morning trying the dress on with her red pants.  I’m pretty sure she wears the dress (which is a little short on her) with black or gray leggings, NOT red pants.

I’m not a huge fan of hoods on inside clothing, but they seem to be popular right now.  I opted to put a pink hood on this dress, and it turned out okay.
bluebell dress with contrast hoodI’ve been sewing more and more with knit fabrics, and I love it!  The finished garments are soft and comfy, and the sewing is fast especially with a serger.  I sewed up this dress in under an hour.

If you’re looking for a quick sewing project with knit fabric for a little girl, I’d recommend this Bluebell dress pattern.  I’m planning to make a summer version in a mid-weight knit with a shawl collar and short sleeves.  I’ll be sure to let you know how that one turns out!




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The Wristlet That Solved All My Problems

After that perfect wristlet turned out to be…perfect, I decided to make one for myself.  For some time now, I’d been wanting a wallet or wristlet that would hold all of my essentials.  For this project, I turned again to my favorite wristlet pattern, The Essential Wristlet by Erin Erickson.  That list of essentials that I needed to carry included grocery money and spending money and a way to keep them separate, coupons, credit cards, driver’s license, other necessary cards, a lip balm, pen, house key, gum, and some gospel tracts.  Room for my cell phone would be an added bonus.

My hold everything wristlet

This is what I came up with, and it does indeed hold it all!  I was also able to use a small piece of this cute sewing themed fabric which I love.  This wristlet measures 7.5″ x 5″ x 1.5″.

It has that extra zippered pocket on the front. That’s where I keep my lip balm, pen, house key, and a few business cards.
extra front zippered pocket
Inside, I made stacked pockets.  The largest inside pocket holds my most important cards in a sleeve from another change purse I had.  The smaller pocket holds some frequently used reward cards.
interior stacked pocketsI used a wallet insert that I found in my desk drawer to hold other important cards that I use less frequently. This slips inside the main part of the wristlet.
card holders

Here’s the best part of my new wristlet:  dividers!  I had these plastic dividers that I used to use in a small binder, and I cut them down to fit inside this wristlet.  I used four dividers and labeled them like this:  grocery money, spending money, store coupons, grocery coupons.  I love being able to have my grocery money separate from my spending money in the same bag.  I used to carry four—yes, four wallets to hold all this stuff!  Every time I went somewhere, I’d invariably want something that was in a wallet that I’d left behind.
wristlet dividers

That doesn’t happen any more.  Now I’ve got everything I need in this one neat wristlet that fits inside my larger purse.  I also cut the main zipper longer and finished it off with a zipper tab so that I can open the wristlet wide enough to access all of the stuff inside of it. my favorite wristlet

I’ve been carrying this wristlet for over a month now, and I still love it!  I’m already planning to make another one in a different fabric.   Maybe a floral print.  Or perhaps a Christmas print.  I’m a sucker for novelty fabrics.

What do you think of this newest wristlet?  Am I not just the most organized shopper ever?  Or am I crazy for wanting to carry all of this stuff with me every where I go?